Dogs basset hound in front of white background

Published on May 17th, 2016 | by Debbie Martin


Dog Breeds Series: Basset Hound

What is a Basset Hound?

It’s hard not to love this sweet short legged breed of dog, with its big eyes and long drooping ears. It was bred for hunting small game such as rabbits and it is still used for this reason in many parts of the country. While basset hounds are not using their instincts to sniff out bunnies, they are a calm, laid back and friendly dog that plays well with kids.

Basset Hounds have a calm and sweet personality, which makes them a popular family companion. Their name comes from the French word bas, which means “low” and refers to the way that their short legs keep them low to the ground. Their short legs are actually a form of dwarfism that is known as achondroplasia and they are big dogs with short legs, rather than having the characteristics of a small dog.

They have a deep muzzle and a rounded face with a lot of wrinkled, loose skin. Many people feel that the loose skin on the face gives Bassets a sad look, which adds to their charm.

A basset hound has a short, smooth, hard-textured coat that is relatively easy to take care of. Many of these dogs have the classic tri-colour pattern of black, tan and white but they can also have red spots on a white coat, solid red markings with white feet and tail or lemon and white markings. You might also see basset hounds with grey coats. However, the grey color is considered undesirable because it is often associated with genetic health problems.

History of the Breed

Basset hounds were bred as scent hounds, which means that they were bred to hunt by tracking the scent of their prey. They have an excellent sense of smell and this talent is only matched by the Bloodhound.

The earliest short legged hunting dogs were documented in engravings from the Middle Kingdom of Egypt, but the modern breed of Basset Hound was bred for the purpose of hunting rabbits and hare in France. Hunting with a pack of bassets is still done in France and in the UK. Their short legs mean that they don’t move as quickly as long legged dogs, which makes it easier for hunters to follow them on foot. The white-tipped tail that sticks up was bred so that hunters could see the dog more easily in the long grass.


A basset hound is a relaxed, calm and happy dog. They are even sometimes too lazy and chilled out, so make sure that you encourage your dog to exercise to avoid obesity. Basset hounds are patient and gentle with children and other pets and they make a great family dog.

When it comes to training your basset, it can be frustrating as this breed has a stubborn streak. Many basset hounds will only obey a command when an offer of a treat is given, but not when food isn’t involved. You will need to be patient and persistent and take your time when training this breed.

You will be successful if you are firm, confident and have a natural air of authority. Don’t get angry and short – Basset Hounds are very emotionally sensitive and will become shy and withdrawn if treated roughly.


Common Health Issues

Basset hounds are prone to some major health problems, such as gastric torsion, thrombopathy, elbow dysplasia, entropion, otitis externa, glaucoma, and canine hip dysplasia. Also, obesity is a common problem which can lead to back problems so make sure that your dog gets regular exercise and doesn’t overeat. Your Basset Hound should get regular eye and hip exams at the vet to identify some of these issues as early as possible.


The Basset Hound has a smooth and shorthaired coat, so it is easy to groom. You can comb and brush it with a bristle brush and shampoo the coat only occasionally. Trim the toenails and wipe under the ears on a regular basis. Also, make sure that you keep the wrinkles in the face and around the face clean. You might also find that you need to clean the ears, as they are long enough to drag in the puddles and dirt.

More Tips for Owning a Basset Hound

Here are a few more tips that you should know if you plan to adopt a basset hound:

  • Basset Hounds are pack dogs and they love to be around their families. This means that they will get along well with other pets, but it also means that they will hate being left alone in the house. They will start to howl and become destructive if they are left along for too long.
  • Regular exercise is very important for your Basset Hound. They love to eat so they can become obese quickly if they don’t stay active. Take your pet for a long walk every day.
  • When walking your Basset, remember that if he picks up on a scent he will become single-minded as he follows it. This can lead him into traffic or away from your line of vision if your dog isn’t kept on a lead, so only let him off the lead in safe areas.
  • Because the Basset Hound has a lot of loose skin around its mouth it tends to drool a lot and make quite a mess when it drinks. Put a towel under its water dish so that you will not have a huge puddle on the floor.
  • Feed your basset hound two or three small meals per day rather than one large meal, as they are prone to bloat which can be a potentially fatal condition. Don’t let them exercise too strenuously after eating and watch him for about an hour after eating.

These are just a few of the important tips that you should know if you are considering adopting a basset hound, so that your pet will be happy and healthy. This lovely dog will make an excellent pet and will be your loyal and loving friend for many years.


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About the Author

Debbie Martin has worked at Beeston Animal Health for over five years, having previously worked as a nurse in equine and small animal practice. Although generally involved with aspects of marketing these days and putting her psychology degree to good use, she still has a great depth of up to date knowledge in all creatures great and small. Debbie lives at home with her partner and two children and spends much of her spare time looking after her horses, dogs and cats or at the home farm with the cows, sheep and turkeys.

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